I've been researching both these paths for a while now. Does anyone have experience with both? Both paths sound beautiful, and I've got a guidebook for the path through Sweden. Is there a recommendation between the two?
Yes, both of the trails are superb. Rather than make comparisons may I suggest you walk one then come back another time for the other?As both are outstanding experiences I don't think it matters which one you choose first.
I am hoping to walk from Sundsvall in Sweden to Trondheim next summer? I'm not sure I have the names of the places right and I'm waiting for the trail guide from the stolavsleden shop so I can get more details on the trail. I understand that it isn't as developed as caminos in Spain, Portugal, etc and that we'll have to be prepared to carry food with us, perhaps sleep in more "rustic" accommodations, etc?
I walked that route in May 2016. An interesting experience but very different from the Spanish caminos. If you have any specific questions I would be very happy to answer as far as I can. There is a very helpful and active Facebook group dedicated to the route. Many of the posts are in Swedish but most of the members are also very fluent in English and very ready to help. Well worth joining. https://www.facebook.com/groups/hikingstolavsleden/
The terrain is very mixed. A lot of walking on minor roads with one very long section - over 30km - at the side of a major surfaced road. A number of sections through pine forest including one stretch of about 40km without significant towns or villages. No very high mountain sections although the crossing from Sweden into Norway is a long isolated stage through significant hills. For an experienced walker none of the stages presents any technical challenges. The route passes through small towns or villages on most days but few large towns.
I carried a small tent and camped most nights. Swedish and Norwegian law and culture are very open to wild camping. Partly for convenience as I was not limited in my stages. Partly to reduce cost. And partly because I walked in May when many of the accommodation options were closed. I walked the route in 17 days which most people would find very fast - but with temperatures often close to or below freezing and with nowhere sheltered to stop on many days there was an incentive to keep moving
As I mentioned I walked in May and was occasionally camping in temperatures down to -5C. I carried a warm sleeping bag and winter clothing. Even in June I would go prepared for cool nights and personally I would always carry a sleeping bag. If you enter the names of some of the towns along the route into the www.weatherspark.com website search box you will find average weather figures for the route which should give you a good guide.
I carried at least one full day's supply of food at all times. There were several stages where no food was available for 24 hours or more and when I expected these I would stock up with at least two day's supply. Walking in summer you will find more places open but there will still be stages where carrying food will be essential. This is one of the ways in which the route is VERY different from the Camino Frances. Planning and preparation are essential.
There are some pilgrim hostels and other (relatively) low cost options along the route but again nothing like the Camino Frances. Accommodation is much further apart and generally considerably more expensive than in Spain. Unless you are prepared to camp you may find yourself spending more time in private B&B type accommodation which is often expensive in Sweden and even more so in Norway. The ST Olavsleden website provides details of accommodation. As the route grows more popular the range of accommodation has grown - even in the 18 months since I walked it. http://www.stolavsleden.com/accommodation-services/